Ask questions when looking for a Realtor

Q: I enjoyed reading your column about condominiums being rented instead of being sold, a sign of Las Vegas’ economic times. Having lived in Las Vegas for nearly 40 years, I am very interested in this information. As a fairly new investor, I am interested in working with an experienced Realtor. My question is whether you have anyone you would recommend?

If you can’t recommend anyone, I wonder if you can tell me how I would determine if a Realtor is experienced or not. What would be some good questions to ask them? I appreciate any help you can give me with regard to this issue. — Rosemary H., Las Vegas

A: Speaking on behalf of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, it’s not proper for me to recommend just one or even a few members of our organization to you.

However, I can tell you how you might find the right one for you.

Finding the right Realtor requires some homework. After all, you’re hiring a professional to help you handle one of your most valuable assets.

Seek referrals, especially from friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers who have recently purchased a home. Ask people you trust about the person or company they used to help them buy or sell a home. Ask if they would use that same person again.

I think you’re smart to seek someone with relevant experience. That’s important, especially in this challenging housing market. So, ask every Realtor you contact how long they’ve been working in this area.

Also look for a someone with appropriate designations, like Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) and Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). This indicates that they have continued their education and added to their expertise in residential real estate.

You also can call the managers of reputable real estate firms and ask them to recommend Realtors who have experience working in your neighborhood, product type and price range.

Especially if you’re selling a home, you should expect to review a comparative market analysis, which includes recent sale prices in your area and for homes similar to yours.

Once you have identified a few Realtors, interview them. Not only is it important to make sure that you find someone with the appropriate experience and knowledge, but also make sure they have the time to commit to you.

You’re hiring someone to do a job for you. It’s important for them to understand marketing, pricing and showing properties. But you should also seek protection and guidance. You want an experienced and ethical professional looking out for you.

Some good questions to ask include those about compensation and representation. They are two different things.

Compensation to your agent can be accomplished in several ways.

For homes that are listed in the Multiple Listing Service through the GLVAR, the buyer’s agent is usually compensated via an agreement between his or her company and the listing agent’s company.

If a home is not listed in the MLS, then you need to determine compensation.

Some or all of the compensation may come from the seller’s proceed, and some or all may come from the buyer.

In any case, keep in mind that all commissions are negotiable and should be spelled out in a written agreement.

Other tips and questions include:

* Make sure you hire a Realtor (someone with additional education, experience and ethical standards required to be an active member of the GLVAR), not simply an agent with a real estate license. There’s a difference.

* If you are selling a home, what is the Realtor’s marketing plan?

* Ask how he or she will handle the process of touring potential buyers through your home.

* How will they get compensated and what commission are they proposing?

* When buying a home, seek a buyer-brokerage agreement with your Realtor that will specify the fee to be paid to your agent.

* Keep in mind that in addition to helping you purchase a resale property, a Realtor can help you buy a newly built home, making sure you get the best possible deal in working with the on-site agent who works for the home builder.

* When will your listing or representation agreement expire?

* Look for a Realtor with experience representing buyers.

Finally, I want to applaud you for taking advantage of this unprecedented time to buy a home here. Mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels.

Home prices are down to 2003 levels in most cases, with many homes being sold for less than what it would cost to build that same home today. For now at least, we have a vast selection of homes. Basically, it’s the best buyer’s market I’ve ever seen.

For more information, or a list of GLVAR members, visit lasvegasrealtor.com.

Sue Naumann is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for nearly 30 years. GLVAR has more than 14,000 members. To ask her a question, e-mail her at ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com.

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